CrescrentRating and Mastercard are proud to present the 6th edition of the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI).
As we tread the path towards full recovery with cautious optimism, we believe findings and the GMTI 2021 rankings would be of great help for destinations around the world in gearing up for the resumption of Muslim travel.
In turn, we launched a series of reports to provide stakeholders a closer look on how to prepare for the return of international travels. In this article, we will be presenting to you the GMTI 2021 rankings.
After taking a pause in 2020 due to the pandemic, CrescrentRating and Mastercard have come up with a revamped GMTI.
Even though the public health crisis have put travels to a grinding halt, a total of 140 countries made it to our list of Muslim friendly destinations, and were included in the latest GMTI rankings.
Amid the COVID-driven ‘global pause’, several destinations continued driving stakeholder awareness, capacity building, and destination marketing to Muslim outbound markets.
These factors are crucial not only to ensure the survival of every member in the Muslim travel market sector during the onslaught of the pandemic. But also to equip them with the faculties they needed to welcome a post-pandemic era.
In coming up with the GMTI 2021 rankings, we have correlated every destination’s Travel Readiness Indicators with the ACES 3.0 model. Click this link to know more about our new computation models.
Data sets used in coming up with this analyses are dated June 20, 2021, and sourced from the Coronavirus Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT), published and managed by researchers at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford.
Based on our findings, Malaysia continues to top the list of Muslim-friendly destinations worldwide, as it has been since the launch of the Index in 2015.
It is followed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Singapore, also Malaysia’s neighbor, is the only non-OIC destination that made it to the Top 20 of the latest GMTI Rankings. Singapore ranked 6th.
While some destinations were not able to make it to the coveted list, others have shown great improvement like Uzbekistan. Ranked 16th in 2019, it jumped to 6th after gaining a GMTI 2021 score of 65.
Stakeholders engaged in the Muslim travel market in Uzbekistan launched several projects to capitalize on its very rich Islamic heritage to develop Ziyarah Tourism.
Other destinations that made it to the Top 20 list included the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Jordan, Brunei, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon and Maldives.
Among all OIC destinations, Malaysia remained ahead of the pack. Joining with it in the list of Top OIC destinations ready to welcome Muslim travelers soon are its fellow ASEAN member-states, Indonesia and Brunei.
For the GMTI 2021, we put emphasis on a destination’s health environment in determining its preparedness to respond to any health crisis, like the COVID-19.
This is why, based on our findings, top OIC destinations from the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait are in a better position to restart Muslim travel, at least within the region.
Non-OIC destinations have also made it to the latest GMTI rankings due to their constant passive marketing to Muslim travel markets even during the pandemic.
Those that made it to the Top 20 are Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Africa, Japan, France, Germany, Philippines, United States of America, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ireland, South Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Tanzania, and Russia.
Like its neighbor Malaysia, Singapore held the No. 1 spot since 2015. Singapore earned a GMTI 2021 score of 69.
Some non-OIC destinations have also improved its rankings like the United Kingdom which moved 3rd in the 2019 Index to 2nd in 2021.
Meanwhile, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Africa and Japan continue to dominate in the Top 10 Non-OIC destinations.
In terms of regions, Western Asia and North Africa are the highest-ranked. They each earned an average GMTI 2021 score of 62.
One of the primary factors why the two regions were ranked higher compared from the rest is that they are composed of predominantly Muslim majority destinations.
Egypt and Morocco are the leading Muslim-friendly destinations in North Africa while Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Western Asia.
Central Asia, with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, ranked third with a GMTI 2021 score of 57. It was followed by South Eastern Asia where Malaysia and Indonesia belong, and Southern Asia where Iran and Pakistan are.
The regions of Eastern Asia, Western Europe, Oceania, Southern Europe, Northern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America, on the other hand, each scored less than 50 in the GMTI 2021 rankings. They are on the bottom list of the rankings in terms of regional analysis.
In this portion of the article, we will be taking a look back at the performance of the international Muslim travel market in 2019, before the pandemic struck.
A total of 20 destinations accounted for around 78% of the total Muslim outbound travels in 2019. Simply put, travelers from these destinations contributed hugely to the global Muslim travel traffic.
These top 20 destinations are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Kuwait, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, Qatar, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Nigeria, Oman, Algeria, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, United Kingdom, Albania, and Kyrgyzstan.
By region, destinations belonging to the GCC accounts for 30% of the total outbound Muslim travels. It is followed by Southeast Asia with 10%, Central Asia with 9%, and Western Europe with 7%.
In terms of Muslim traveler arrivals, OIC destinations still dominate and enjoy high traffic of inbound Muslim travels. Topping the list was Turkey, which was followed by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in second and third respectively.
Other destinations that also have high arrivals of Muslim travelers are Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates, France, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Russia, India, Singapore, Egypt, and Italy.
These top 20 destinations account for around 66% of the total Muslim arrivals.
Some destinations have large markets of Muslim travelers. Others attract high traffic of Muslim travelers. But it’s also important to look at destinations that have high percentage of Muslim visitor arrivals compared to their total arrivals.
Muslim travelers may only account for 10% of the total number of travelers worldwide but some destinations record a far higher percentage.
For example, Iran, whose share of Muslim visitor arrivals account more than 80% of its total visitor arrivals in 2019.
Other destinations whose majority of visitors are Muslim travelers included Algeria, Chad, Sudan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Jordan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Albania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Turkey.
The COVID-19 pandemic was definitely a bump to the growing Muslim travel market but it also paved way for stakeholders to reassess its priorities and focus. Muslim travel may never be the same but destinations gearing up for the eventual reopening of borders, and resumption of international travels signal that recovery is just within reach.
We hope the latest GMTI rankings would not only provided the much-needed insights for members of the Muslim travel industry in preparing for a post-COVID setting but also to serve as hope that Muslim travel is returning soon.
Download the full report here.